Food and the City: Urban farming in Paris

Paris is not a place where you'd expect to find rows of neatly planted fruit and vegetables, but urban farming is flourishing in the French capital. The Down to Earth team takes a closer look.


As a matter of fact, there was once a time when Paris was able to feed itself. In the 18th century, three quarters of the city was devoted to farming, but by 1900 there was almost nothing left. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo now says she wants to create 30 hectares of urban agriculture. That’s a mere 0.3 percent of the total surface area, but it could be enough to feed up to 10 percent of the residents. In this episode of Down to Earth we meet those who believe farmers can also thrive in the city.


Etienne Le Bideau, Urban farming coordinator, Ecole du Breuil

Feeding the city is often cited as urban farming’s primary objective. Yet, despite the efforts made by Paris City Hall, only 0.3 percent of the city’s surface area is cultivated, which is largely insufficient. If the city were to feed itself, we would need to cultivate 10 percent of its total surface area, just to provide food for 10 percent of its population!

Above all, urban farming is a tool to make cities more resilient from an environmental perspective, but also from a social perspective: it can lead to the creation of projects between residents and promote the notion of mutual support as opposed to competitiveness.

In addition to reconnecting people in the city with the process of growing food, urban farming can also serve as a launching pad into the rural world for future farmers who have discovered the field of agroecology while cultivating crops in the city. 

New farming techniques, which are more or less sustainable, have also gained ground in the city. Some technologies have got a lot of attention but the viability of their technical and economic models has not been proven.  

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